Golden Suns Clinch Postseason Berth

They say that all good things must come to an end.

That time hasn’t arrived yet for Arkansas Tech University’s streak of qualifying for the women’s basketball postseason.

The Golden Suns earned their 13th consecutive postseason berth on Saturday despite suffering a 72-59 loss to Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Okla.

ATU (12-14 overall, 9-11 Great American Conference) clinched its berth when Harding University defeated Oklahoma Baptist University 92-63 in Shawnee.

Arkansas Tech will be one of the eight teams in the GAC Tournament March 7-10 in Bartlesville, Okla. The Golden Suns are defending GAC Tournament champions and have won the title three times during the seven-year history of the event.

“We were a team searching for ourselves (midway through the conference schedule),” said Dave Wilbers, ATU head coach. “We weren’t playing very good basketball at that time. Our players have faced a lot of adversity, but they kept playing hard.”

Arkansas Tech has won six of its last nine GAC games after going 3-8 during the first half of the league schedule.

The Golden Suns led 18-16 after one quarter on Saturday and 29-28 with under three minutes to play in the second quarter.

That was when Sonia Sarda took over for Southern Nazarene (15-11, 14-6).

The freshman guard, who came in averaging three points per game, scored six points during an 11-2 run over the final 2:37 of the half. The Crimson Storm went to the intermission leading 39-31.

Adrienne Berry stretched Southern Nazarene’s lead to 43-31 by scoring the first four points of the third quarter.

Arkansas Tech made a push late in the third period and pulled within 50-45 on a 3-point play by Lyrik Williams with 1:17 to go in the quarter.

Sarda made sure that was as close as the Golden Suns would get.

She answered with a 3-pointer and scored five of the game’s next seven points to reclaim the momentum for the Crimson Storm, which led 57-45 with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter and maintained at least a nine-point advantage the rest of the way.

Sarda finished with a career-high 16 points. Irene Perez added 15 points for SNU, while seniors Madeline Schroepfer (13 points) and Berry (11 points) both reached double figures in scoring in their final game at the Sawyer Center.

Southern Nazarene maintained a share of second place in the GAC standings with the win.

Hannah Villines had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Golden Suns. It was her second double-double of the season.

Arkansas Tech’s women will host Northwestern Oklahoma State University for a 5:30 p.m. GAC contest at Tucker Coliseum in Russellville on Thursday, Feb. 28. The two teams are tied for seventh place in the GAC standings with two regular season games remaining.

Tickets ($5 adults/$3 students and senior citizens) will be available at the door. Free admission will be granted to those with a valid ATU identification card.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will provide live coverage.